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Admission to the degree programme shall be subject to the approval of the Senate.
Every candidate must be a university graduate and produce evidence of ability to undertake research in the area of proposed study. Such evidence shall include:
- a Bachelor’s degree with first or upper second class Honours (with an average grade in Honours papers at or equivalent to at least B+ at the University of Otago) or equivalent (including a research component) with an average grade at or equivalent to at least B+ at the University of Otago;) or
- a Master’s degree (with an average grade at or equivalent to at least B+ at the University of Otago) (including an appropriate research component worth at least a quarter of a year's workload (0.25 EFTS), with a grade at or equivalent to at least B+ at the University of Otago); or
- appropriate research experience; and
- for candidates including a nominated creative component for assessment, demonstrated advanced training or experience in a relevant creative practice.
If your first language is not English you need to meet our English language requirements as follows: IELTS score of 6.5 in the academic module (with no individual band below 6.0); we also accept a number of other English language tests. Due to COVID-19, we currently accept Duolingo English Test (DET), IELTS Indicator Test, and TOEFL iBT Special home Edition.
Don’t meet the English language requirements? The University of Otago Language Centre "English for Otago" programme offers a pathway for Undergraduate and Postgraduate students to meet the English language requirements for undergraduate and postgraduate study.
Months of entry
The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is the highest degree offered by the University of Otago. It is awarded on the submission of a thesis which must meet rigorous standards. It requires highly developed academic ability, independence and perseverance. Most students take between 3-4 years of full-time study to complete their PhD.
Nature of the Degree
Candidates for the degree of the Doctor of Philosophy are required to pursue an approved programme of advanced study and research under supervision as enrolled students of the University. The degree of Doctor of Philosophy is awarded on the basis of the submission of a thesis. The thesis, which may include a nominated creative component, should give evidence of the candidate’s ability to carry out research, that the candidate has shown originality and independence, and that the candidate has made a significant contribution to the advancement of their particular field. The research should be of a kind which a diligent and competent student might reasonably be expected to complete within three years of full-time study.
Research in the Department of Geography reflects the specific interests of staff and their graduate students. The mix of interests is, of course, dynamic.
- Physical Processes in Environmental Systems - The Department has a strong tradition of theoretical and field-based research into physical environmental processes. We analyse and model biological, climatic, hydrological and sedimentary processes at a range of spatial and temporal scales, with field sites in a wide range of environments including glaciers, dunes, alpine ecosystems, rivers, lakes and coasts.
- Critical Human Geographies of Change - Through our research, human geographers at Otago seek to understand better, and explore responses to, the impacts of global change and neoliberalisation on people and communities, using the ideas of power relations and contestation to explore themes such as environmental politics, sustainable communities, and local governance and democracies.
- Planning and Environmental Management - Our interests traverse the wide range of issues and challenges faced by society in trying to envision and implement sustainable practices, both here in Aotearoa New Zealand within the context of the Treaty of Waitangi, and internationally. Staff and graduate student research is keenly oriented towards theory-based, applied research that makes real tangible contributions to the world around us.
This programme focuses mainly on Geography.
Duration of the Programme
A candidate shall pursue a programme of study and research under supervision for a period normally equivalent to 3 full-time years.
The minimum period of study shall be equivalent to 3 full-time years and the maximum period shall be equivalent to 4 full-time years. Exceptions shall be permitted only with approval of the Senate.
No programme shall exceed the equivalent of six years of full-time study from the date of first admission.
A candidate shall be enrolled continuously for the entire period of the candidacy, up to the submission of the thesis, except that a candidate may apply to the Senate for permission to withdraw temporarily from study.
Location of Study and Research
Candidates are normally expected to be resident and studying in New Zealand while enrolled for the degree. Exceptions shall be permitted only with approval of the Senate.
Candidates proposing to study overseas may be approved to do so on a case-by-case basis by the Senate. Normally such study must be deemed necessary for the candidate's research. While overseas, the candidate must continue to be enrolled at the University.
This course is available at Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin campuses.
Information for international students
Otago offers students an unrivalled campus experience and a vibrant, social student culture. The majority of Otago’s 21,000 students live, work and play in Dunedin - New Zealand’s only true university city. Otago is home to over 3,000 students, from over 100 countries.
Fees and funding
Qualification, course duration and attendance options
- full time36 months
- Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
Course contact details